At the start of 2011, I simplified the first WordPress theme I’d built for this site and turned it into something far more minimalistic. I went from two sidebars to one, lost the bulky header and turned from color to black and white. Part of this was a desire for simplicity; part was my reaction to my lack of design sense. Color is not my strong suit, and I shouldn’t be caught trying to pretend.
Since then, I’ve made a few tweaks, but one thing I hadn’t done all year was post the theme — which I call Goshen — for anyone to use. Today I fixed that and pushed the files up to their own repository on Github. You can download the files and hack away. (In your WordPress install, under /wp-content/themes/, create a folder called Goshen and unzip the files there; then you can activate the theme via the dashboard.)
I’ll continue to tweak when I have time. I can’t say enough about how much WordPress theme hacking has taught me about HTML, CSS, templates and web design. If you want to start from scratch, I recommend this excellent tutorial. You’ll discover that WordPress themes have only a few moving parts. Mastering them will let you make your site exactly what you want it to be.